The Black Dragon's Revenge (1975)

Ron Van Clief, Charles Bonet, Phillip Ko, Bobby Canavarro, Lei Chang, Peter Chen Lau, Jackie Chen,
Three rival gangs embark on a search for Bruce Lee's handwritten "finger fighting " manual.
  • 4.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Norbert Albertson Jr., Writer:
  • Chin-Ku Lu, Director:
  • Ban-Yee Yeo, Producer:
6 / 10

The Ron Van Clief show

For me, Ron Van Clief came to my attention in the 4th Ultimate Fighting Championship when he managed to survive four minutes in the ring against Royce Gracie at age 51, the oldest fighter ever in UFC. When UFC started everyone expected the karate guys to win everything. They had the reputation for the one punch kill and the physical conditioning to endure almost any attack. What no one expected was that real fights almost always end up on the ground and Jiu Jitsu had every advantage and won everything in the opening years. But this was 1975 and the movies and the audience paid to see fighting upright with punches and big kicks. Ron delivered the goods.

To see Ron in action is probably the only reason to watch this movie. You can also watch it to count the side kicks. Anytime a non-Asian choreographs a fight sequence the side kicks dominate. Yuen Siu is also worth watching as I consider her the best female martial artists of the golden age from 1967 to 1984.

7 / 10

Golden Age Kung Fu Epic

Ex-Marine Lee Van Clief commands the screen, along with his sidekick Chrales "El Pantera" Bonet, in this eye-popping, colorful Kung Fu extravaganza. One of a number of movies produced around the time of Bruce Lee's death, that offer hunches and conspiracy theories about Lee's demise. Story-line takes a back seat to the action, the colorful Hong Kong cinematography and especially the great energy that flows between the two leads that make this one of the most fun 'buddy cop' movies ever. Both Van Clief and Bonet, (aka the Puerto Rican Panther" are New York natives, and it is so obvious that the two had an absolute blast in Hong Kong, making this crazy flick.,and that energy transfers to the viewer, who should have a great time with this one. Fans of the genre will recognize Charles Bonet from the cult Grindhouse flick, "Death Promise." For so many years "Black Dragon's Revenge" was somewhat of a 'lost film,' meaning that it was only available in the most rotten, virtually unwatchable prints. Because of this, many of these movies were thought to be cheaply or incompetently made junk. Having had the opportunity to see a pristine, fully restored print of "Black Dragon's Revenge," I can attest to the fact that this is a well made movie, featuring some stunning cinematography, artistic camera angles and very impressive fight choreography. And this time voice dubbing is kept to a minimum, as the main players speak in their own voices with live recorded sound. This is the second entry in a trilogy of "Black Dragon" movies featuring Van Clief. All three movies are very strong entries in the Kung Fu genre. I'm hoping to see a restoration of the first "Black Dragon' and the third, "Way of the Black Dragon,' as these movies deserve the attention.

7 / 10

Achingly funny experience on DVD!

I saw this as a part of THE RON VAN CLIEF/CLEEF COLLECTION, which also has WAY OF THE BLACK DRAGON included. DEATH OF BRUCE LEE is absolutely hysterical in terms of its cruddy presentation. The print used on the DVD seems to be close to the definition of "worst imaginable." As wrecked as possible while still telling some semblance of story and having images accompanied by sound --- barely. It is filthy, scratched, faded, littered with brutal jumpcuts, and at some point was transferred over to video, which is what was used for this DVD. You can see tape damage rolling in some scenes! On top of all of this is the spastic, nauseating panning & scanning throughout. The operator was REALLY INTO IT and whips his lens all over the original frame, often LOSING TRACK of characters, or unsure of where to focus, especially during conversations when a character unexpectedly begins speaking and the lens bangs over to frame right only to jar suddenly back left to capture the response (often too late). The panner also exhibits moments of squeamishness and will often pan AWAY from a moment of violence on screen! The print's audio track was also at some point clumsily edited to exclude all spoken references to "Bruce Lee," resulting in jarring jumps in dialogue, bad grammar, and general plot confusion. All the characters seem to be investigating the death of "Bruce," or "Him." It is almost impossible to tell if the film was well-made to begin with. I somehow doubt it, if the corny cackling villains and absurd zooms in-and-out are any indication. But the cast, especially the 2 male leads, are magnetic and charming, and super cool. This is the first "Ron Van Clief" (spelled "Cliff" in the credits and "Cleef" on the box art!) film I've ever seen, and it makes me wonder why he is not more famous; he's a cool dude who looks like he could break me in half. He's fast and HUGE and dresses like a pimp crossed with Hunter Thompson. His fight scenes and honestly his mere presence light up the screen and demand attention. His final confrontation with the bad guy was truly remarkable and savage. The fact that the film's merits can survive the ravages of abuse and technician interference noted above should be compelling evidence enough to give it a shot if this is the kind of thing you like.